What is FDL?
FDL is an artificial intelligence research accelerator established to apply AI technologies to challenges in space exploration for the benefit of all humankind.

The program is a public / private partnership between ESA in Europe and NASA in the USA. We work with commercial partners such as Nvidia, Intel, and Google Cloud who provide expertise and the vast compute resources necessary for rapid experimentation and iteration in data intensive areas, and partners such as Satellite Applications Catapult, SETI and the University of Oxford.

A critical aspect of FDL's proven innovation methodology is the formation to interdisciplinary teams focused on tacking a specific challenge. Each team is composed of at least two subject specialists from the space sciences and two specialists from the data sciences. These challenge teams are selected by world class network of mentors who work closely with teams through intensive research and development sprints.

What is the story so far?
FDL is four years old and has established an impressive success rate for research output over accelerated time periods. Research outcomes are regularly accepted to respected journals and scientific conferences in both AI and planetary science domains.

FDL’s research teams have developed a portfolio of AI capabilities in the following mission areas:

Mission: Return to the Moon.
Mission: Living with our star
Mission: Planetary Defense
Mission: Are we alone?
Mission: A mission control for planet Earth.

Where does FDL take place?
FDL has a global presence, in previous years the residential research sprint has been at the SETI Institute/NASA AMES, Mountain View, California, US and the University of Oxford, England, UK.

As specific challenges within mission areas are identified they will be matched with appropriate partners and locations

When will FDL 2019 be?
Middle of June - End of August 2019

When is the application deadline?

Applications close on 28 February 2019, sometimes we extend the deadline if we find after an initial review we are looking for specific domain or subject specialism.

What is the format of the 8 weeks?
Frontier Development Lab will begin with a one week Bootcamp to help you get up to speed with the key concepts. If you are a Data Scientist, we’ll help you understand the basics of the Space Science and Exploration field, and vice versa. You will work then in teams of four over then next 3 weeks to formulate a solution and spend the remaining time prototyping your thinking. There will be a final presentation to luminaries from Silicon Valley, New Space and NASA/ ESA at the end of the programme .

Is there a financial incentive for attending FDL?
Researchers receive a stipend, accommodation and transport on location for the 8 week duration.

Can I apply to FDL if I’m a non-US / non-European citizen?
Applicants can be US Citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents (Green Card Holders) or Foreign Nationals eligible for a temporary student visa. (e.g. J1 Visa) to join the US based sprint. Applicants can be European Citizen or relevant visa status to stay in Europe for at least 8 weeks.

FDL is uniquely able to welcome applications from researchers from around the world.

Do I need to put my own research on hold?
Ideally the work of FDL will complement your research - either by providing a deep dive introduction to emerging AI techniques to take back to your own investigations, or, if you are a data scientist, providing an opportunity to work shoulder to shoulder with world class experts from the private sector, NASA and ESA. Last year’s researchers all mentioned the value of getting a fresh perspective and the strong relationships and friendships that were made.

I’m not sure if I qualify for all the criteria, should I still apply?
We strongly encourage you to apply. We are looking for a diverse group of individuals, and you might be the right person for Frontier Development Lab. However, if you have questions and concerns, reach out to us via the contact page.

Does the output have to be about the assigned challenges?
The key goal of FDL is to produce a genuine contribution to NASA/ESA (and other space agencies) in an accelerated time frame. Although each year has specific challenge themes, your work could encompass broader aspects of space exploration providing that it can also be applied to the stated problems of that year.

I’m neither a planetary scientist or data scientist, but I love space and computers. Can I apply?
FDL is usually open to approximately 24 researchers. As such, we require applicants that have a Doctorate or Post-Doc level of understanding in the computer science, or the Space Science problem areas.

What is going to happen to my project after FDL?
The work you will have created will take the form of published scientific papers to be shared with the wider academic community. You will have the opportunity to share your findings from the eight weeks on our final day, consisting of formal presentations to partners, NASA, ESA and others involved. Additionally, you will have the chance to present your work at Space Science and AI conferences via posters and/or scientific papers. In 2018, a number of our teams are pursuing their work in academic and applied spheres.

I can’t apply to be a researcher, how else can I get involved?

1. Sign up for our email newsletter (to stay up to date with the latest news, progress and events). Newsletter sign up

2. Join our social channels and help spread the word about what we are doing. FDL Europe Twitter FDL Linkedin

3. As you many know, many AI projects need help creating “training” data so that the neural networks can learn faster. A great example of way you can help out, is by playing the lunarush.ai game. You’ll be helping us train AI to create better maps of the moon!